March 4, 2009

Why a Combat Veteran or Soldier Does Not Have Patience

When a combat soldier or veteran exhibits little to no patience with family or society, he or she has been stripped of all the interpersonal intricacies that society thrives on. That which seems mundane and abhorrent to the combat veteran or soldier lubricates the interactions of civilization and serves to engage and breed closeness, familiarity and possibly the formation of trust by way of a gradual process of self-disclosure.

Through the proper revealing of information in a contextually rich environment; the person weighs the customs, personal values and boundaries against one another to assess whether or not they might seem compatible with others. If this seems so, then a person might incrementally reveal more of themselves after establishing a level of trust where common or shared revelations can lead to closer relations.

The Combat Values Theory I propose, has to do with a value structure that replaces or overrides our civilian values schema. They consist of primitive instinctual defensive mechanisms of survival and the disintegration of our inhibitions of taking a human life. Identity, cognitive dissonance, hindsight bias, attachment structures, memory and dissociation all have component features in trauma based disorders with evolutionary and cultural considerations. "The culture of combat veteran is formed by a shared experience, often traumatic and rooted in the work of soldiers" (Hobbs, 2008).

The combat veteran's or soldier's organization and structural dissociation of the personality has both defensive and survival motivated components governed by an "combat othering" internal values system. When a persons principles conflict with necessary actions to preserve life, the memories become encoded, an integral part of the combat self. The disconnection of idealized experiential meaning cordons off the memories and render them inaccessible to the conscious mind, but still influence unconsciousness through intrusive thoughts, emotions and sensory intrusions, due to the lack of integration leading to the structural dissociation personality. Decompressing and integration of compartmentalized memories could be the difference between a soldier or veteran becoming dissociative later.

Combat PTSD has its own sense of self, a survival system separate from the person and has a regulatory feature that intrudes upon the combat veteran or soldier relational interactions. An evolutionary defensive mechanism with purpose of get a person through survival situations and PTSD is like a button stuck on survival and when in combat or such, the person seems to be "normal" it is when they return from war that the problem becomes apparent.

The combat veteran's or soldier's value structure and sense of self have been fundamentally altered and do not match that of society. They have been conditioned to react to visual and auditory stimulus in the environment and to tune out that which poses no threat. Since societies interactions greatly differ from the combat zones, the combat veteran's or soldier's reality has been torn asunder by having been removed from the troop-organism. The closed circuitry of the troop-organism blocks out all attempts of interpersonal communication and interprets this function as an attempt to penetrate the boundaries of the now completely dysfunctional identity of the combat veteran or soldier.

Hobbs, K. (2008). Reflections on the culture of veterans. American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, 56(8), 337-341.

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